Christians in Burkina Faso Going Back to Church amid Persecution: Catholic Priest

Holy Mass in Burkina Faso. Credit: Aid to the Church in Need

Christians in Burkina Faso who had abandoned the Church are coming back much stronger, a Catholic Priest serving in the West African nation that is experiencing a high level of persecution has said.

Fr. Pierre Rouamba, the Prior General of the Missionary Brothers of the Countryside (FMC) finds it remarkable that Christians who had left the Church when Burkina Faso was still peaceful are coming back at the most difficult time to be a follower of Christ in the country.

“It is truly striking to note that Christians who had to some extent abandoned religious practice before the crisis, are returning to the faith at a time when the terrorists are doing what they can to extinguish Christianity. While the terrorists prevent Christians from gathering in churches, families get together in their homes to rekindle the flame of faith through catechism classes and joint celebrations when there are no priests,” Fr. Rouamba tells Catholic pontifical and charity foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International.

In the Tuesday, August 29 ACN report, the Burkinabe Catholic Priest says that it is precisely because these Christians are directly persecuted that they deepen their bond with the person of Jesus Christ.

“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christians, in a particular and current way here in Burkina Faso,” he says, adding that in Kompienga, a province in the Eastern region of Burkina Faso, which he describes as being “under fire from terrorists”, requests for baptism are pouring in, and catechism classes are continuing.


Burkina Faso is one of the 13 African countries where Christians are persecuted the most, according to the Religious Freedom Report 2023, which paints a grim picture of religious freedom on the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent.

Published in June by ACN, the report lists the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Somalia, Eritrea, Libya, as some of the African countries where Christians are persecuted the most in Africa.

ACN reports that in Burkina Faso, attacks perpetrated by movements affiliated with Al Qaeda and the Islamic State predominantly in the Northern and Eastern regions of Burkina Faso have resulted in the death of more than 2,000 civilians and soldiers.

Additionally, more than two million people have been displaced in one of the most adversely affected countries in Africa by jihadism.

According to Fr. Rouamba, Christians who suffer hatred for their faith have two options. “They can either seek salvation outside God, by rebelling against Him, or they can seek it in the heart of Jesus Christ Himself.”

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“Our Christians have this special grace to understand and to place their lives in the hands of their Saviour,” the Burkinabe Catholic Priest says in the August 29 ACN report.

He shares with ACN what it is like to serve the Christian population in Burkina Faso, a country that the charity foundation describes as “one of the most dangerous regions in the world.”

Sharing his experience of ministering amidst dangers, he says, “I spent Easter in Kompienga, in Burkina Faso, in a very special atmosphere, because this place is isolated from the rest of the world, cut off by mines and checkpoints, which are manned by terrorists. We can only get in by helicopter.”

“Around Pentecost 2023 the terrorists began to target the local population. Many people were killed or seriously injured and had to be air-lifted out,” he adds.

He narrates that in Kompienga, the terrorists have seized livestock and are doing everything they can to get the population to either convert or evacuate.


“If people refuse to convert to Islam they are forced to leave, but as the roads are blocked, they are left to wander around in the forest with no possessions, and many die due to lack of food and care,” Fr. Rouamba says.

He recalls that in one of the parishes under his pastoral care, a group of women tried to break through the blockade, thinking that the terrorists would not attack them. However, many of them were held and raped, he says, and adds, “Some were held for a long time to be used as sex slaves and only returned after several weeks, pregnant. These are real tragedies that are not reported in the media.”

FMC members were founded in 1943 in France at the height of World War II, to devote themselves to pastoral work in rural areas, Fr. Rouamba says, and adds, “This is still at the heart of our work today, particularly in West Africa. We remain in the most economically and socially deprived areas, sharing the life of rural populations and being a seed of the Gospel.”

“We are very often in contact with Muslims or people who have not yet heard of Christ. We are systematically opening doors to the Gospel!” he says.

The Burkinabe Catholic Priest shares that the charism of the Congregation is “to bring everything back to Jesus … despite the difficulties, which are numerous at the moment.”

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“We want to be a sign of Christian hope in the midst of desolation. We are accompanied by Christ, because He Himself went through the suffering that we are going through,” he says.

In an attempt to describe the risk of being a follower of Christ in Burkina Faso, the Catholic Priest says, “For the Christians we accompany, the time perspective does not go beyond the next 24 hours. We do not know if we will survive beyond the next day. This forces us to deepen our personal relationship with Him.”

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